The Outsiders

S. E. Hinton

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S. E. Hinton | Biography


Susan Eloise Hinton is an American writer best known for her starkly realistic coming-of-age novels, which defined a new generation of fiction for teens. She was born on July 22, 1950, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was just 17 years old when The Outsiders was published in 1967. The fact that she wrote the book while she was a high school student and published it while a freshman in college gained her much attention, and she was labeled "The Voice of the Youth." She met her future husband while in college at the University of Tulsa; they married in 1970.

Hinton describes her high school self as a tomboy. She always related well to boys and had many close male friends. She wasn't sure anyone would believe that a female could realistically portray the violent social class struggles from a male perspective, but she didn't allow those doubts to prevent her from writing the book. But her publisher, Viking, was worried enough to request Hinton use her first and middle initials rather than her distinctly feminine name, Susan Eloise. Viking thought readers and reviewers might dismiss a book written by a female that so solidly focused on the lives of teenaged boys. Later Hinton continued to write authentically with a male voice. She felt there were fewer books published with male protagonists and that while girls will read "boy books," boys often won't read books aimed at girls.

Hinton went on to publish four more young adult novels: That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), Rumble Fish (1975), Tex (1979), and Taming the Star Runner (1988). In 1988 she received the first-ever Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for her lifetime contributions to young adult literature.

After the birth of her son, Nicholas, Hinton turned away from gritty Young Adult (YA) novels and instead wrote children's books. Big David, Little David (1995) is a picture book, and The Puppy Sister (1995) is a children's chapter book. More recently, Hinton has written a novel, Hawkes Harbor, published in 2004, and short stories, Some of Tim's Stories, published in 2007, for adults. Her hobbies include reading, taking classes, and horseback riding.

All of Hinton's young adult novels, including The Outsiders, have been adapted into feature-length movies. Alongside American film director Francis Ford Coppola, Hinton coauthored the screenplays for both The Outsiders (1983) and Rumble Fish (1983). She endorses Coppola's interpretations of her stories and cites those experiences among the best of her life.

The Outsiders has sold more than 15 million copies. It is a staple of middle school classrooms and is widely considered a classic of American literature, particularly as a landmark of teen literature. The story's themes—senseless violence among youth gangs, social class differences, and the importance of surrogate families—are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published.
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